Regarded collectively of the most vital art treasures of the planet, The Book of Kells is a stunningly embellished manuscript of the gospels written around the year 800 for the monastery at Kells in County Meath. The Tara Brooch and also the Ardagh Chalice both display the astonishing ability of 7th century goldsmiths. The designs are highly vibrant, the profuse decorations intricate and precise. The brooch was found on a beach North of Dublin, the chalice in a field in County Limerick. Each are currently in the National Museum.
Amillennium later and craftsmanship in Ireland was still internationally famous. Bossi’s inlaid marble chimmneypieces are now price well into six figures – one was sold 3 years ago for £260,000. The Booker brothers made looking glasses in Dublin’s Parliament Street in the early 18th century. Museum items, they too are sold for over £two hundred,000. The Irish rococo stucco work of the Francini brothers and their followers has never been equalled. In the hands of these maestros plaster cherubs seem to float across ceilings, and baskets of lucious fruit spill wantonly down swag encrusted walls.
Design during this island outpost of Europe developed a unique version of Paladianism. Sir Edward Lovett Pearce, whose cousin Vanbrugh designed Blenheim and Castle Howard, was one in every of the great architects of 18th century. The stately mansions designed by his successor Richard Castle, the later gothic castles of Francis Johnston, the elegant classicism of James Gandon and William Morrison, these have given Ireland a fabulous architectural heritage. Add to this the exquisite Casino, designed by Sir William Chambers for Lord Charlemont and thought-about to be the best piece of architecture in Europe, and the Swiss Cottage, designed by John Nash, George IV’s favourite architect. Within a rustic the scale of Maryland you have the heritage of all Europe.
Irish silver, glass and furniture are all specialist fields to themselves.
Waterford Crystal, established by Penrose in the 1780s, is still world famous. Irish furniture, with its vigorous and unrestrained carving, is unmistakable. And Irish silver has long been collected for its rococo splendour and rich decoration. In modern times the painter Jack B. Yeats, brother of the poet W.B. Yeats, has become amongst the most sought after expressionists in the globe.
Though the names of Ireland’s literary giants – Swift, Goldsmith, Joyce, Shaw and Wilde, echo round the world, Ireland’s visual heritage has long been a secret, shrouded in mystery to those outside the circle of cognoscenti. With Country House Tours, the veil is drawn aside. Our contacts will bring you into the most effective collections, organise attention-grabbing and articulate specialists to guide you, and reveal the total rainbow of applied and ornamental arts that have flourished in Ireland for the last 5,000 years.